First Blog Post: My Writing Journey

Hello! I’m Sam, and I’ve decided to start a blog about writing. I want to record my thoughts and feelings about my mission to become an author.

So, first things first: I’m 18 and I live in South Yorkshire, England. I’m currently studying three A-Levels and plan on taking a Biomedical Science degree at university (because everyone tells me I need a back-up plan if this writing thing doesn’t work out). Science interests me, but it’s far from being my passion in life.

I’m a writer. I’ve known it my whole life. Ever since I learnt to read I would read constantly, and around the same time I started creating stories. I’d get lost in those little worlds. When I first started to write… I’d discovered a part of myself. I don’t remember a time before writing.

I first tried to get published when I was 12 years old. I’d just finished my first ‘proper book’ (or what I thought was a proper book at the time) and begged my mum to ring up Bloomsbury. Being Harry Potter’s publisher, in my eyes they were the only publishers that mattered – and they had to publish Thunder Wolf. Thunder Wolf was an 80-page Word document, my pride and joy, the thing I’d work on every day after school. I stood anxiously next to my mum when she rang Bloomsbury up, and listened carefully when they politely rejected my story, telling my mum I’d need to get an agent first.

So that was my first book rejection. I doubt many people start getting them as young as 12.

I eventually realised Thunder Wolf was unpublishable, and put it aside in favour of new ideas. For a good few years, I cycled through idea after idea, starting a thousand different stories but never getting past the first few chapters. I was consumed by self-doubt, by the idea that my current story would never be as good as the ones I was reading. For a long time I searched desperately for the idea that would be The One, and never found it. I had a setting in mind (England, but in the future, during an Ice Age) but never a strong plot that fit.

When I was 15 (in 2014), inspired by Marvel movies, Norse mythology, and lots of different books, I wrote my first full-length novel: Shifter. I queried it to a few agents, got a few rejections, and put it aside, feeling absolutely crushed.

A few months later. It was the beginning of 2015, and I’d had a new idea. This story was about souls, and I wanted to call it The Soul Syndicate. I’d carried along a couple of Shifter’s characters (I couldn’t let go of them, I was already too attached) and the future Ice Age setting. I wrote my book feverishly – as with Shifter, it took me a month to complete. Four weeks of creativity poured out of me and onto the page.

For about a year, I went through a cycle. I’d query The Soul Syndicate to agents. They rejected it. I tried not to lose hope. I wrote a new version of TSS, renaming it Soul Seeker. Occasionally I’d break away and write something new, only for it to also be rejected. I’d figured out my own writing process and I knew what worked for me, so I wrote a few more books, experimenting with characters and new ideas and tweaking my beloved idea. It was hard – I’d become too attached to the original.

But last summer – 2016 – I decided to completely rewrite Soul Seeker. I’d give it a mega revamp. I’d change characters, settings, plot lines. I discarded what I eventually realised was bad material but kept the precious gems that were what I’d originally fallen in love with: a few key scenes and ideas. I realised the pacing of the book had been too slow. The conflict had come into play too late. So I created extra villains, a new government system, a new battle.

This book, too, I wrote in a month. And the plot kept pouring out of me – half-way through I’d realise something important would happen towards the end and literally jump out of my seat to bounce around my bedroom in excitement. I wrote plot points down with shaking hands. I could already see the sequel taking shape, the events in the aftermath of Those Big Scenes.

It was The One. I’d torn apart the original book, the idea I’d once thought as perfect. But in its place now is – I’m sure of it – the best thing I’ve ever written. Ever.

I posted it, along with another new novel of mine, on Wattpad (as sambalazs) and felt overwhelmed and excited when positive readers’ comments started building up. People do seem to like my writing – maybe I’m doing something right after all!

As at this point I was a nervous wreck from all my rejections (I ended up Googling ‘agents’ and feeling sick just looking at the word), so my mum took over emailing and querying for about a day or so (until she got bored/became too busy to keep doing it). My parents helped me write a better synopsis.

So the emails have been sent out, and now I wait. Terrified. Because surely I can’t write anything better than what I have already? Rejection hurts; I’ve been taking blow after blow for almost three years now. The self-doubt is sometimes overwhelming.

But I could never, ever stop writing. I do it simply because I love it – along with a million other reasons – and even if everyone in the world told me they hated my book, I’d write it anyway. For myself.

If I end up getting an agent and a book deal, I’ll definitely keep posting here! It might be an interesting journey, and I hope it will eventually help other aspiring writers – I used to obsessively read my favourite authors’ blog posts, trying to pick up tips.

When you write, you’re kind of on your own. There’s no set way to do anything – no guidelines. It’s very uncertain. But I guess that’s one reason why I love it so much.